It’s official, Vicenza’s centre-forward will play Champions League football and earn a decent salary: 350.000 Euros per season. Demanded and convinced by Mandorlini, “Grande Sasa” agreed to a two years long contract, with the option to extend the deal for one more year and forced CFR to pay an important fee for a 31 years old: 950.000 Euros. Which means that CFR wants results in the near future, but also that one of the following guys – Yssouf Kone, Lacina Traore, Cristian Bud – has already packed his bags.
My bet is on Kone, who played way below his ability in the previous season, has a similar wage with Bjelanovic – huge, by Romanian standards! – and entered the last year of his contract, lacking any interest from other clubs. So, if Kone gives up the remaining salary, he’ll probably be allowed to move on a free transfer, which won’t happen with Traore (too expensive for what he can offer right now) or Bud (wanted by FC Bruges, but not desperately enough to meet a 2 million Euros asking price!).
First of all, let me say “I’m sorry” to all those who thought “What? Milito is Romanian?”. I’m talking about International Curtea de Arges and Cosmin Bacila, the right back reinvented as a midfielder/winger, who just scored his fifth goal of the season for a team that will fight for survival until the very last round. Bacila made a late debut in the first division, playing mainly as right back for Farul Constanta, a team he left last summer to join the newly promoted International. The hard-working type of player, useful in both phases of the game, the 27 years old feels so good in a 4-1-4-1 system that he managed to become the club’s top scorer, with the four goals scored in the second half of the season. Let me just write down some of the players who have scored five goals this season: Bogdan Stancu (striker, Steaua), Yssouf Kone (striker, CFR Cluj), Lacina Traore (striker, CFR Cluj), Mike Temwanjera (striker, FC Vaslui), Lucian Raduta (striker, Rapid).
Now, I’m not saying that Bacila is a top class footballer, but maybe we should think twice before we talk about the millions Steaua, CFR, Rapid or FC Vaslui ask for their “star players”…
- Otelul Galati – Pandurii 1-1 (Iorga 30 / Vranjes 45)
- Astra Ploiesti – Unirea Urziceni 0-2 (Galamaz 31, Rusescu 69)
- Ceahlaul – Politehnica Iasi 1-0 (Vasilache 70)
- Steaua – FC Brasov 1-0 (Plesan 6)
- Dinamo – Gaz Metan Medias 1-0 (Alexe 57)
- International Curtea de Arges – Rapid 1-2 (Bacila 9 / Grigorie 51, Sapunaru 58)
- Universitatea Craiova – FC Timisoara 1-2 (Iliev 32 / Goga 7, Magera 90+3)
- FC Vaslui – Unirea Alba Iulia 3-0 (Wesley 48, 61, 90)
- CFR Cluj – Gloria Bistrita 1-0 (Y. Kone 40)
- On Wednesday, Dinamo met CFR Cluj at home, on a pitch that favored the guests. For the first time since his arrival, Mandorlini sent on the pitch only one natural striker, Yssouf Kone, in a 4-1-4-1 formula that looked solid, but could have done more damage, with the right players. Nicolae Dica was a disgrace (central right midfielder), slow and always late both in attack and defense, while the Italian Bottone (right midfielder) was a joke. Piccolo did a better job in defense, but if this is what Italian players can offer to Romanian football, we’re definitely better off without them! Solid performance from Sixto Peralta – I cannot imagine how on earth he can be left on the bench, when fit! – who dictated the play in the centre of the park, well protected by Gabriel Muresan, deployed as anchorman, and another good display from the Brazilian left back Leonardo Veloso, who was on trial with Dinamo, but went on to sign for CFR. The game ended 1-1, Kone equalizing after Lucian Goian’s header, but it was a tight affair until the end, with both teams pushing for a win. The Red Dogs, though, were handicapped by the presence on the pitch of two strikers completely out of shape, Claudiu Niculescu and Florin Bratu, and suffered two more blows, defenders Ze Diabate and Lucian Goian badly injured during the first half.
- Strange approach from Marius Lacatus, who decided to rest several first team players in the first leg of the semifinal against FC Brasov! FC Brasov – FC Vaslui ended 1-0, but I wonder why “The Beast” was thinking of the Monday match vs. Timisoara, when he was just two steps away from the final, three steps away from a trophy and guaranteed place in Europe next season! Anyway, the hosts deserved their win, finally looking like the team from last year, organized and hard working. Solid performance from Savic, who slowly won his place in the first eleven, offering an excellent assist from the left, converted by the 36 years old captain, Robert Ilyes. For Vaslui, the Brazilian Gladstone confirmed that he’s got some class, but Porumboiu’s collection of talented individuals is still far from working as an unit, with the brothers Dinu and (especially) Lucian Sanmartean looking poor, the Spaniard Delgado inconsistent, relying on the creativity and constant threat represented by Wesley…
CFR has already a three point advantage at the top of the Liga I standings, getting four points in two rounds, against the main rivals in the fight for the title, Unirea Urziceni (1-0 away) and Steaua (1-1 at home). Still, the awful performance from last Sunday’s game should push the panic button in Gruia, as I’ve never seen this strong team play so poorly since its promotion in the top flight! Read more…
This was a hit back in 2008, when CFR managed to snap the striker from Rosenborg and Kone, in spite of a rather mediocre scoring record in Liga I, gained respect for some of his performances and is still considered among the best foreign footballers that ever played in Romania.
Although involved in the African Cup of Nations with Burkina Faso (10 minutes played against Cote D’Ivoire so far), Kone is very present in Romania as well, being the surprising target of a series of attacks from CFR’s usually quiet and discrete owner, Arpad Paszkany. For the past few days, the guy repeatedly accused Kone of complacency and, in case that was too subtle, spoke about his wish of an imminent departure of the centre-forward.
This might seem strange (as CFR wouldn’t say no to selling Lacina Traore and yet is very interested in winning another title), but it’s just a direct method of attracting attention for a player who currently probably lacks offers. And the player definitely could have done more in the first half of season and is probably the highest earner at the club, while almost any decent offer that should come in could satisfy CFR, who paid only 600.000 EUR to Rosenborg.
Looking over his scoring record in the league, you can agree with Paszkany: 9 goals in 28 appearances in the first season, followed by 4 goals in 8 games this season, isn’t enough, given the current level of the Romanian first division. And CFR can definitely find a player who can provide better numbers and won’t ask for a similar wage to Kone’s, while still making a profit out of this deal, by offloading the guy even for just 1 million EUR, a sum which several clubs could easily spend during this January window for an established striker…
Alongside goalkeeper Nuno Claro (33), Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini has included on his black list the following players: Dario Flores (25, central defender from Urugay), Andre Filipe Leao (24, central defensive midfielder from Portugal) and Diego Ruiz (29, centre forward from Argentina – in picture). They’ve been offered on loan to Unirea Alba Iulia, but refused to go there. The presence of Ruiz (who spent the first half of season in Turkey, on loan at Kasimpasa) on the list is somehow surprising, as it comes a day after club owner Arpad Paszkany said that he’d prefer Ruiz to Yssouf Kone, as the Argentinian has been a more prolific scorer.
CFR also officially released on a free transfer experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32), who’s wanted not just by Steaua and Dinamo, but also says that he has offers from Russia and Greece.